MAYOR of Craigavon Councillor Carla Lockhart recently made her first civic visit to Craigavon’s Sister City LaGrange in Georgia.
The Mayor was invited by LaGrange Mayor Jeff Lukken and was accompanied by council’s Head of Economic Development Nicola Wilson and principal administrative officer and sister city Liaison Officer Lewis Porter to strengthen existing links and identify new initiatives with LaGrange City Council, LaGrange Troup County Chamber of Commerce, manufacturing/business companies, health providers and educational facilities.
The trip was filled with meetings and visits to identify strategies and ideas which could be implemented in Craigavon to grow and improve a wide range of sectors including health, education, civic/governance and economic development.
As part of the visit the Mayor and Head of Economic Development attended a range of exploratory meetings in Atlanta relating to life sciences as a key growth factor. This enabled the council to secure contact with Georgia Innovation Crescent and Georgia Tech with the hope that follow up discussions will facilitate how the council develops their Life Science Strategy and action plan over the next 5-10 years.
Other visits included a trip to the Kia Motors plant in Georgia which covers over 2,200 acres, and Georgia Power - the largest economic development organisation in Georgia and Interface - which has a local plant here in Lurgan to see the latest innovations in carpet tile design and technology.
Martin Kelly, Head of Infrastructure Development with the Health and Social Care Board also visited and met with representatives from West Georgia Health and Emory Clark-Holder Clinic to share information in relation to the operation of the health systems operating in both jurisdictions. Areas of potential co-learning in health include student placements between Craigavon and La Grange; Emory Health in Atlanta is keen to utilise the infrastructure model developed in Northern Ireland, and West Georgia Health is keen to have additional information of the use of robot technology currently being utilised at Craigavon Area Hospital.
Other fact finding meetings also took place in relation to education, philanthropy and governance. In addition, a commitment was given to strengthening the links between the two towns with a focus on economic development as well as education, health and cultural exchanges.
Mayor of Craigavon, Councillor Carla Lockhart, said: “The trip was a great success. We met a range of people and companies who gave us an invaluable insight and information on how we can not only grow our life sciences sector here in Craigavon but grow and improve our health, education and economic development fields. The links we’ve made with LaGrange have provided us with an excellent opportunity to learn from them and in turn they learn from us about successful initiatives and projects which will improve our thriving borough.”